Race for No.7 jersey on - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Race for No.7 jersey on

By Brent Read 09/05/2004 09:06:36 PM Comments (0)

The race for the NSW No.7 jersey is back on with Craig Gower and Brett Kimmorley certain to be named in a 25-man Blues squad on Monday for the opening State of Origin game.

Gower has the edge on his Cronulla counterpart after playing in last month's Test but coach Phil Gould admitted the contest was too close to call following Kimmorley's outstanding weekend in which he starred for Country on Friday night and the Sharks on Saturday night.

"You have the Test halfback sitting at home watching the (City-Country) game," Gould said on Channel Nine.

"He would have loved to have played in that game and defended his position.

"This comes back to what I said about playing the City-Country game before the Test. Craig Gower is sitting at home, he's the No.1 halfback a month ago, he doesn't play in the City-Country game and there's a possibility selectors could go the other way.

"It's very difficult."

The final decision on who will play halfback for NSW in Origin I at Telstra Stadium on May 26 could hinge on the fitness of St George Illawarra five-eighth Trent Barrett, who missed the Dragons' loss to Manly.

If Barrett is available and selected, Gower is the likely choice.

If he is out, Melbourne five-eighth Scott Hill comes into calculations and his understanding with Kimmorley brings the former Australian No.7 back into the equation.

Barrett and Hill will also be named in the preliminary squad, as will incumbent Australian prop Luke Bailey despite suffering an injury which could rule him out of the opening two games of the series.

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